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Retail Ready

Retail Ready

               In a world where the Unicorn Frappuccino has already hit the shelves, food and beverage manufacturers have to start thinking even more outside the box to stand out. Recently, these manufacturers are turning away from food items and towards promotional items to appeal to consumers and keep their brands relevant. Companies from McDonald’s and KFC to Hidden Valley and Coca-Cola are all creating items that have little to do with the typical eats they are known for.


               In September, Taco Bell, announced that they were teaming up with retailer Forever 21 to create a fashion line that includes hoodies, graphic tees, bodysuits, and more. These “fashionable” clothing items range in price from $12.90 to $29.90 and are geared towards the millennials and Gen Z generations. Taco Bell’s clothing line hit Forever 21 stores across the country on October 11, 2017. Another fast food brand getting involved in the fashion scene is Pizza Hut. Their brand created “Pizza Hut Yoga Pants” whose patterns feature triangles that look a lot like pizza slices. These retail at $49.99.

               Clothing is not the only way brands are tapping into the retail space. Whataburger, a Texas-based burger chain, recently came out with “whatapeiceofjewelry,” a silver charm branded with the multi-W-ed logo of the chain itself. This charm goes for $60.00 a piece, which is not even the most expensive of the food brand jewelry. The Cheetos brand launched a $20,000 orange sapphire and black and white diamond earrings and ring set that was actually sold! Now that’s some series snack dedication.

               Other companies tie their unique items more closely to their signature products. Hidden Valley, for example, created the ranch fountain. The ranch fountain is the savory relative to the sweet chocolate fountain and has already sold out at $89.00 per piece. They also created Hidden Valley bottle coozies for those who are concerned about keeping their dressing as cold as possible at the dinner table.

               Fun products like these often get criticized or made fun of but the cynics are heavily outweighed by the fans. As the CEO of consulting firm BrandTwist said, “Brands are really fighting for mindshare, and they don’t want to just be seen as a very functional brand that helps you satiate your hunger. They want to be a part of your lifestyle too.” As long as companies like Taco Bell and Hidden Valley don’t spread themselves too thin or weaken their core product, creating lifestyle components for their brand seem to be working quite well.  

Finally Fall

Finally Fall

              Personally, fall is my favorite time of year. It is also the time of year that represents the beginning of end-of-the-year holiday marketing, an extremely important time for brands. This is a time for brands to rethink their strategies and target their audience through the changing season and upcoming holidays. Here are a few examples of creative fall marketing campaigns and why they work.

               Over the past few years, Hershey has come up with Halloween themed marketing campaigns for one of their most popular products, Kit-Kat. Of course this seems like a no-brainer for a candy company, but recently they have taken an edgier approach to marketing this delicious product. In 2016, their Halloween campaign drew people in by emphasizing awkward situations to create comedy. This approach is great because it keeps the viewers entertained and thinking about the product throughout the entire ad. In addition, they have created campaign geared towards Generation Z and Millennials – with Halloween commercials starring Chance the Rapper. The idea to use Chance, a widely popular musician, came to Hershey when they recently learned that much younger generations were the majority of consumers buying the 81-year-old product. Hershey found a way to target a specific audience and use the upcoming season to sell their product and so far it has been a hit.

               Dunkin Donuts is another food brand that is focused on the fall season. For some, fall means cider and changing of the leaves, but Dunkin Donuts knows for their customers fall means pumpkin spice. That’s why this year they based their campaign on releasing their pumpkin coffee earlier than ever. The company has already seen a significant benefit from this, according to CNBC , the company has reported better-than-expected earnings for seven-straight quarters and introducing these limited time products slightly early this season has given them even more of a boost.

               Krispy Kreme, another doughnut brand, has also tapped into the fall spirit but through a different approach. To boost brand awareness and hopefully gain more customers, Krispy Kreme decided to capitalize on daylight savings by coming up with their “Lose An Hour, Gain A Doughnut!” idea. This promotion attempts to thrust the doughnut brand to the front of consumers’ minds while simultaneously easing the effect of losing an hour of the day. Single day promotions might not be the most lucrative of campaigns, but in this case it put people in a good mood and reminded them that Krispy Kreme actually cares about their customers. In fact, these single-day promotions have become a mainstay of Krispy Kreme’s marketing and branding strategy because they are easy to execute and have brought only positive attention to the brand.

               With the start of fall upon us, consumers are looking to be engaged in the season. For brands, it is important to cater to autumn trends that resonate with their audiences whether that is through specific generational targeting, the release of certain fall-themed products, or campaigns that focus on a certain seasonal changes, like daylight savings. So, if brands want to keep consumers happy, they should breathe in the crisp air, and concentrate on the upcoming season. 

Total Eclipse of the Market

Total Eclipse of the Market

               On Monday, millions of Americans stopped what they were doing to go outside and check out the first total solar eclipse since June 1918. This once in a lifetime phenomenon not only had the average citizen excited, but it also acted as a great marketing tool for multiple brands and companies. From original recipes to moon jokes, let’ take a look at the most creative eclipse campaigns.


               The first campaign that really caught my eye was Corona. Corona teamed up with Cramer-Krasselt, a creative marketing firm, to put out the perfect eclipse package, “The Corona toast kit.” This toast kit came equipped with eclipse glasses, an eclipse countdown clock, and of course a few coronas. Not only was this a cute and fun way to get people excited about Corona and their product, but the box also doubled as a pinhole viewer which made it even more appealing to consumers. They also put up a stop motion video on their Facebook page to explain how to actually create the pinhole viewer, creating more buzz and keeping customers happy. Krispy Kreme, one of America’s favorite donut brands, offered its famous glazed donut in a chocolate shell to mimic the eclipse. This was a cute and fun way to get guests excited about the solar eclipse and get a donut that tasted delicious! Spirit brand Jose Cuervo came up with fun cocktail recipes that they called “Total Especial Eclipse” and “Dark Side of the Sun.” Both cocktails consisted of interesting ingredients that played off of the solar eclipse, for example the Total Especial Eclipse recipe calls for charcoal lemonade to make it darker in color, like the moon eclipsing the sun. Lastly, Cracker Barrel, a chain known for its biscuits, started posting cheeky social posts that were very simple but still effective. For example, one of their posts was of a biscuit blocking out the sun, which they called a “Bisclipse,” providing consumers a quick laugh with their meal.


               All of these companies found clever ways to market their products while tying in the solar eclipse. Capitalizing on events like the eclipse is an extremely smart way for brands to make themselves known and hopefully gain some more traction and revenue. Consumers all over America were extremely excited about the eclipse so it made perfect sense for marketers to take advantage of it and come up with creative ways to tie in the once in a lifetime phenomenon. Whether it was through giveaways, social posts, or recipes customers couldn’t look away from these brands just like they couldn’t look away from the solar eclipse.


Meal Service Meltdown?

Meal Service Meltdown?

               I’ll be the first to admit that I am not much of a cook; which is why when my roommate started her subscription at Blue Apron, who according to FoodDive is the leading meal kit service by an estimated 17 percent, I thought it was a genius business venture. Meal kit services are convenient, healthy, and can be more cost effective than going out to dinner every night so why are they not performing as well as expected? And why are we seeing companies like Blue Apron flop when it comes to stocks and IPO’s?

               First of all, what started out as an explosive growing business is now starting to temper. In a CNBC article author Nick Wells states that more than half of meal kit subscribers cancel their subscriptions within the first six months primarily because consumers treat their food service subscriptions a lot like their New Year’s resolution to go to the gym, short lived. In fact, according to a study done by Cardlytics, in 2016 nearly three-quarters of new subscribers gave up on their service within a year. These cancellations are a huge deal for meal service companies like Blue Apron, HelloFresh, and Plated because they tend to give big discounts or freebies to draw customers in in the first place, and when that upfront cost doesn’t actually amount to a real subscription the company is at risk to lose a decent amount of money. Another aspect of the meal service kits that is having a slightly negative effect on the business is price. Yes, meal services are good for consumers (like me) whose first instinct in the kitchen is to leave and go to a restaurant, but for consumers who like to cook it is actually much more cost effective to go out and buy ingredients at a grocery store. According to a CNBC trial run, meal delivery service meals cost about $9.99 to $13.50 a portion; while shopping for the same meal at a grocery store would only cost $3.98 to $11.90. Lastly, with mergers like Amazon and Whole Foods it is really hard to predict what is in store for the future of online groceries and how that will effect meal service companies. Data shows that people who use meal kits also often utilize other on-demand purchasing habits, like Amazon Prime, UberEats, etc. so with the growth of that industry it is safe to predict that smaller independent meal service companies will have to fight to stay alive against giants like Amazon.

               Although the premise of this post focused on why meal service companies are not doing as well as predicted, we should not count them out too quickly. There are still a ton of loyal customers using Blue Apron, HelloFresh, Plated, etc. but if these companies want to stay relevant going forward they are going to have to think outside the box and come up with ways to keep their customer subscription rates up.

For more information on meal delivery services and how they compare check out this article from!